The Musgrave Pencil Company of Shelbyville, Tennessee have been in the pencil business since 1916; so they know a thing or two about making pencils, so much so that if you browse their website you will see quite a range of pencils.
But today I’m only interested in one of them, the Tennessee Red. It’s been a couple of years since I first heard of them and back then all you could do was envy people in the US who could buy these wonderful pencils because back then Musgrave didn’t ship outside the US. So every once in a while I’d check back to see if anything had changed but nothing had then one day, about two weeks ago I was reading The Nanosphere and the Tennessee Red’s got a mention and better still a link.
One click later and I was visiting Present & Correct, a London based stationers who stock the most wonderful range of interesting stationery and complementary accessories. First, I found the red card boxed twelve pack and a little more digging on the site and I found the pencils I had been admiring for years; the cedar boxed twenty-four pack.
And then a few clicks later my order was in and the following day it arrived!
The pencils arrive wrapped in an outer cardboard box and inside this they are wrapped in bubble wrap which ensures they arrive in pristine condition.
When you open the box you are met by the gentle scent of cedar wood or to be precise, in this case, Eastern Red Cedar, from which the box and the pencils are made. The box is smooth but as far as I can tell the wood is unfinished whilst the pencils within have a lacquer finish which helps to bring out the depth of colour in the wood.
The pencils arrive unsharpened, they are standard size and thickness and have a brass ferule and eraser at the top of the pencil and are listed as having a graphite hardness of #2 (or HB). I decided to run a basic test to find out how durable the graphite is when used by using my Kum long point sharpener to give one of the pencils the longest sharpest point I could.
I have to say that I was very impressed by the pencil’s performance and whilst I wore the point down it didn’t, at any time, crack or crumble laying down a consistent mid-grey line, next I created a couple of shaded patches and ran the eraser through one of them and, again, I was impressed; it removed the graphite easily from the page in just a couple of strokes.
Overall, I am very impressed with these pencils and the box will be something I keep pencils in long after I have run out of the Tennessee Red’s; I think it’s a wonderful idea
So, the big question is are they worth it?
At £18.00GBP for 12 and £40.00GBP for 24 plus shipping this is a big question.
Price per pencil in the card box is £1.50GBP each whilst in the cedar wood box they are £1.67GBP each which sounds a lot; but when you consider the Blackwing 602 is around £2.25GBP each the Tennessee Red doesn’t seem quite so expensive and if you buy 24 you are also getting a lovely cedar wood box.
My answer, in short, is this; if you have the pennies to spare then treat yourself or if you know someone who is passionate about stationery these will make an excellent gift.
Disclaimer: The pencils were purchased at retail price. The opinions expressed in this review are my own; and I am not connected with either the retailers or manufacturers in any way.